The Clinton County Health Department has confirmed a skunk that attacked three dogs was infected with rabies.
On Oct. 2 the skunk charged through a fenced in pen, attacked three dogs and was then killed by the dogs.
Local law enforcement responded to a call from the owner of the dogs and advised the dog owner to have the skunk tested for rabies. Two of the dogs attacked by the skunk had a current rabies vaccination and received a booster. A third dog was unvaccinated. After the skunk was confirmed rabid, the dog’s owners decided to euthanize it.
This is the second rabid animal in the southern part of Clinton County in the past year. A raccoon in the town of Black Brook tested positive for terrestrial rabies in September.
Tests are currently being done to determine if the skunk had terrestrial rabies. Health Department spokeswoman, Laurie Williams, said terrestrial rabies is a more aggressive type of rabies than the more common strain found in bats.
“This is the first time in 15 years we have seen terrestrial rabies in this county, it’s definitely a game changer for us in Clinton County,” William said. “We believe this skunk had terrestrial rabies because of the way he charged through the fencing to get to these dogs.”
Williams said the health department wants to get the word out about the importance of vaccinating family pets and educating children to stay away from animals that are acting strangely.
The Health Department is currently holding the annual round of fall rabies clinics and an additional clinic will be held at the Keeseville Fire Station on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 6 p.m.
The rabies clinics are free for all Clinton County residents. Essex County residents and pet owners will not be turned away due to the current rabies situation in that part of the county. Donations are accepted.
The public is advised to take the following steps to protect against rabies: Report any sick or strange acting wildlife. Clinton County 565-4870. Essex County 873-3500. Vaccinate pets and livestock. New York State law requires that all dogs, cats and ferrets be vaccinated against rabies by 4 months of age. Vaccinating a domestic animal not only provides protection for the animal, but vaccinated pets act as a barrier to keep the rabies virus from spreading between wild animals and people.
Vaccination is also recommended for livestock with frequent human contact, such as horses and cows.
Do not feed wildlife or stray animals and discourage them from seeking food near your home. Keep garbage cans tightly covered and avoid storing any food outside.
Do not approach an unknown animal, either wild or domestic, especially if it is acting in a strange or unusual manner.
Report all animal bites and any contact with bats to the Health Department in your county. Human rabies can be prevented after exposure to an animal testing positive for rabies by administering a series of shots. Post exposure shots must be approved by local public health authorities.
Children should be instructed to tell an adult immediately if they were bitten or scratched by any wild animal.
To prevent the possible spread of the rabies virus, no one, including trappers and nuisance wildlife rehabilitators, should transport and relocate any wild animals at this time.
If an unvaccinated pet comes in contact with a rabid or suspected rabid animal, the pet must be quarantined for six months. The quarantine must be approved by local public health officials.
Vaccinated pets that come in contact with a rabid or suspected rabies animal must be given a booster rabies vaccination within five days of the contact.
The Clinton County Health Department has already conducted several rabies clinics in the county as part of their regular fall effort. The remaining clinics are as follows:
Thursday Oct. 4, Beekmantown Fire Station, Tuesday Oct. 9 at the Morrisonville Fire Station, Wednesday Oct 10 Keeseville Fire Station, Thursday Oct. 11 Ellenburg Fire Station Tuesday Oct. 16 Peru Fire Station Thursday Oct. 18 Chazy Fire Station, Tuesday Oct. 23 Keeseville Fire Station.
All pets must be at least 3 months old to be vaccinated for their initial rabies vaccination, be revaccinated a year later, then at least every three years after for the rest of their life. The clinics are free for Clinton County residents, with donations accepted. All animals must be on a leash or in a carrier to be admitted to the clinic. This is for the safety of the clinic workers, the pets and other pets in attendance.
To report a suspected rabid animal call the Clinton County Health Department at 565-4870 or Essex County Health Department at 873-3500. For more information, call 565-4870 or visit www.clintonhealth.org.